My D3 Virtual 50K Run Recap & Tips on How to Run A Solo Virtual Race of Any Distance on a Track
Photo by Jon Gilbert
On Saturday, May 8, I participated in the Dawn to Dusk to Dawn (D3) virtual 50K run. Runners had 48 hours to complete the distance anywhere. This event was the alternative to the canceled, for a second year, D3 track ultras that takes place on Mother's Day weekend. Last year a virtual
24-hour solo challenge took place. I ran it in my neighborhood. In 2019, I ran the 24-hour track event.
I decided to log the virtual 50K miles on the high school track near my home. I wanted to run the miles as a training run for the TGNY (The Great New York)100K taking place June 19. As part of my training for the 2019 D3 24-hour track ultra, my longest training run on the track was 25 miles. That morning started hot and sunny and then turned cold, cloudy, and very windy. At the 2019 D3 24-hour, the rain came down and the winds blew the last 11 hours.
So, tackling the virtual 50K would not be overwhelming. The forecast called for rain. How happy was I when I woke up to a Saturday morning filled with blue skies, and the sun peeking through white puffy clouds. The forecast now called for temps in the low 50s, partly sunny skies, and rain showers in the afternoon.
I have completed 22 ultramarathons - a mix of 50 miler, 100K, 100 miler, 24-hour, 48-hour, and multi-day events but never a 50K. This 50K run was my fourth virtual ultra since the pandemic struck. On this day I was running solo, like I do with any training run but, armed with my aid station - my pink folding chair, nutrition, hydration, sunscreen, weather appropriate gear, and a portable charger - and my car.
I arrived on the track after 8 am. I parked my car by the bleachers and set up my aid station.
My nutrition consisted of almond butter and Ritz cracker sandwiches I made, two sleeves of more Ritz crackers, potato chips, pumpkin seeds, Paleo chocolate chip cookies, a banana, an orange, and fun size Milky Way and 100 Grand bars. My hydration consisted of 54 oz. of Nuun, two cans of seltzer, and two cans of Pepsi packed in my insulated lunch bag with an ice pack.
I packed sunscreen, a rain jacket, a fleece jacket, a lightweight jacket, and my pink umbrella.
I also packed a portable charger. I learned from running the 2020 virtual Blue Ridge marathon and my FitBit battery dying at mile 24.5 the importance of having a portable charger. While on the track, I used the portable charger once to charge my smartphone. With my smartphone in my running pouch plugged into the charger in the pocket of my running biker shorts, I continued running. Run and charge!
I was my aid station and my crew. Jon stayed with me for the first lap, took a few pictures, and left for work. With the exception of one or two people at any given time on the track, I had the track to myself.
I began running about 8:40 am. I ran steady in an officially unofficial virtual event. I kept a consistent pace, albeit slow, the entire time. The only time I went off track was to use the women's room. I never took a rest break. I never sat on my chair.
I ran counter-clockwise the entire time. In multi-day, 24-hour, and 12-hour track ultras, track direction changes every 4 hours. I found my self in a nice comfortable zone. I didn't feel alone or isolated. During my time on the track, there was a youth soccer game, a high school lacrosse game, a high school baseball game, and a lot of cheering and yelling typical at sports events.
The high school drama students rehearsed their dance choreography on the football field and sang a cappella through their masks until it began to rain, and then moved indoors.
It began to rain about 1:30 pm. It was windy. By now I had logged 20 miles. I ran to my car and put on my pink rain jacket.
With 11 miles to go, I kept moving. After about 45 minutes, the rain stopped, the track was wet, and the weather got colder. A few laps later, I put on my fleece jacket. I had logged 25 miles.
Two miles later, the sun started to peek. By now I had also started to take a picture of my Garmin watch after every mile beginning at mile 20, just in case my Garmin battery died. Only 4.09 miles to go!
My goal was to take it slow and finish in 8:30. I was happy when I finished in 7:42:49. I was also running to raise donations to benefit cancer caregivers. I received one $30 donation but, slow and steady, I'll meet the $10,000 goal. To date, 9 caregivers/families have been recipients of the fund. If you know a cancer caregiver you would like to nominate, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me on my website.
I never imagined I would ever run a track ultra. A natural sentiment is that running on a track is boring and tedious. I used to think the same. But not anymore. It's actually very meditative. Also, when running in a real track event, runners are surrounded by other runners, elite and ordinary. We feed off each other. We support and inspire each other. We're never alone. And there's no risk of potential injury from tripping over pesky trail tree roots, slipping and tumbling on rocky terrain, or falling on asphalt and concrete roads.
I'm sure I would have run this virtual 50K a bit faster if I were not running solo and feeding off other inspiring track runners. I felt great after logging 31.1 miles. Now, I'm setting my sights on finishing the TGNY 100K, an urban running adventure in NYC on pavement and accompanied by traffic and noise. Now, do you see why running on a track is much more appealing?
At the finish in 7:42:49. Photo by Jon Gilbert.
Go ahead! Run a virtual solo, or a real track event of any distance with fellow runners. Don't forge to:
pack adequate nutrition and hydration.
pack weather appropriate running gear for the weather changes.
pack a portable charger.
run at your pace.
Every lap is a victory lap!.